By Redjie Melvic M. Cawis One Luzon E-News Magazine
TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corp has started cleaning up the river systems affected by the recent leakage of its tailings pond.
The Philex Mining environmental team, headed by vice-president for community relations Victor Francisco, was deployed to conduct cleaning operations along the Agno and Balog Rivers going to the San Roque Dam.
In a statement, Philex said that they mobilized a task force to facilitate the cleanup of tributaries affected by the recent tailings leak from its Padcal Mine in Tuba, Benguet. This is being done in order to prevent silts from reaching the convergence area going to San Roque Dam and to other areas in Pangasinan.
The operations in Padcal Mine have been re-organized to focus on immediate remediation and rehabilitation of its tailings storage facility and the impact of water and sediments leak on the environment.
Philex Mines vice-president for operations and resident manager Libby Ricafort said that the physical cleanup of the affected rivers is part of a long-term plan to rehabilitate and restore the tributaries, and develop them as a potential eco-park and tourist area in the future.
“The task force will wash, impound, collect and haul sediments along the riverbanks or riverbed into a strategic site as backfill materials. The process may be done through mechanical engineering, depending on the assessments of the experts,” Ricafort said.
During the height of typhoon Gener, the Tailings Pond 3 of Philex was reported to have suffered leakage due to the continuous rains for the past two weeks.
This prompted Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Cordillera to order Philex Mines to stop operations until the leakage has been remedied and the area will be safe and secure for mining operations.
Last week, Philex Mines Padcal operations president and chief operating officer, Eulalio Austin, engineer, announced that their team had successfully put in place concrete stopper boards at the penstock area of Tailings Pond 3.
But despite the temporary solution, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said that the mining operation of Philex will remain suspended until such time that the integrity and safety of its tailing pond has been assured.#